This is might be a “back in my day” kind of article, but I hope not. I like any shirt I get commemorating a race, but I do miss those old cotton t-shirts you used to get for running the local 5K to raise money for a pretty good local cause.
See prior to moving back to my near ancestral home of Reno, I lived in Connecticut where, after picking up a running habit I had earned a healthy collection of race t-shirts. I think with the exception of one tech shirt, they were all cotton t-shirts and I really loved them. I’d wear them until they practically fell off me.
I know, cotton, it’s not a great for running in, but I still liked them. I think in some ways it kept things in perspective for me. I’m not out to beat Galen Rupp or Aliphine Tuliamuk at any distance. I’m just out to run with people and enjoy it. So the old cotton shirt was something I felt I could wear not only running, but also around town, and when they got older, doing yard and house work.
I think the switch to tech shirts probably has something to do with cost and also an attempt to create more value. I do remember that it was exciting when you’d get a tech shirt back in the day, but it was rare. I’m guessing the costs of printing the shirts these days has gone up and so maybe the difference between cotton and tech shirts isn’t big enough to make buying the cotton worth it. I think that might make an interesting business story and if I were still a business reporter, I would look into it. I still might, but for now, I got stuff to get to, so I’ll just put a pin in this one.
I will say the tech shirts I keep getting are really cool and, yes I do prefer to run in them. But they just don’t feel like the kind of shirts you can wear around town. By the way, this is coming from a man who once attended a fancy brunch his freshman year in college wearing sweats and a sweatshirt.
And maybe that’s where some of the nostalgia for those shirts is really coming from, college where I could buy white t-shirts commemorating some event or other aspect of life for about 10 bucks or less.
Do they still do that in college? Do kids still sell shirts for events and to raise money to pay for tuition? I hope so. I thought it was both creative and entrepreneurial. We had some really talented young men and women who made those shirts and Middlebury had some really great Ts. I remember one featuring the Dalai Lama skiing with a keg. His Holiness was on campus for a talk, which I unfortunately could not get inside for because Dana Auditorium was filled to the max, but I later heard him speak at another event in Mead Chapel for a discussion of humanity’s obligation to the environment and it remains one of the clearest memories I have of college.
Anyway, maybe I’ll just have to make my own cotton Ts. Ultimately, though, I’ll take any shirt you got when it comes to these races. No matter the material, they keep the memory of the event and time fresh.
Keep running, keep writing